This week, I’ve focused on the BCUC reports and will write more about Site C later. I also looked at Statistics Canada employment reports. I don’t put a lot of weight on month to month changes because the chance of statistical error is high but a little softness in job creation seems apparent.
Labour market survey results for January 2015 through September 2017 are reflected in these charts:
There is a reduction in job numbers in the last part of quarter three 2017, although minor. Uncertainty in real estate markets and the slight interest rate bump (with fears of more increases coming) are responsible for a good part of this.
Much of our economic boom has been driven by residential construction, partly facilitated by foreign money but also by homeowner equity gained as prices escalated. Boosts in real estate values encouraged owners to borrow for residential renovations, car purchases and all classes of durable and non-durable consumer goods.
That sort of spending tends to peak and decline as people grow nervous, fearing the bubble will burst and historic asset values will not be sustained. Bankers have been under pressure to reduce financial risks and that introduces tempering factors in lending for mortgages and lines of credit.
Another problem affecting employment growth is housing affordability. I live on the North Shore and see signs everywhere offering jobs. Hospitality businesses indicate that some are cutting back hours of service for lack of workers, particularly people at the junior levels.
I’ve had conversations with local government people around the province and frequently hear concerns expressed that a lack of affordable housing hinders economic growth. From people in trades, I’ve listened to complaints that the quality of available workers is a problem grown worse over time. This may be from lack of suitable training or from changing attitudes of Canada’s young people toward employment.
Big money earned through illegal activities might have a greater impact than we care to admit and economic stimulus from criminal enterprises may explain why the former government hesitated to enforce certain laws.
Over a long time, BC has seen a reduction of jobs in goods producing sectors, particularly in manufacturing, and a significant increase in service sector jobs. I expect we will have to rely more on innovative small and medium sized enterprises for future job growth and that our new government ought to provide increased encouragement to SMEs.
The Clark government was dazzled by capital intensive proposals that didn’t necessarily provide a good number of long-lasting domestic jobs. Megaprojects were driving debt and contractual obligations to amounts far beyond levels experienced elsewhere in Canada.